NGL prices followed the swoon in crude oil and natural gas prices as 2018 ended, but margins finished the year strongly.
The hypothetical barrel (bbl) at Mont Belvieu, Texas, slumped below $25 to a 17-month low, dragged down mostly by an 11% drop by C5+ during the seven-day tracking period since the most recent Frac Spread. But tumbling gas prices meant that margins improved for all except C5+ and propane, which narrowed by less than 1%.
Ethane prices showed virtually no change at either Mont Belvieu or Conway, Kan., but stronger exports from the Gulf Coast and the lower natural gas price triggered a sharp rebound in margins. Mont Belvieu rose from the previous weekly average of 1.7 cents per gallon (gal) to an eight-day average of 4.5 cents/gal, while Conway posted a positive margin. EnVantage Inc. expects another surge in ethane demand when Formosa’s Point Comfort, Texas, cracker starts up sometime in second-half 2019.